The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe has expressed its opposition to this week’s launch by the Zimbabwe Media Commission of the Zimbabwe Media Council, saying a voluntary media oversight panel would be preferable to a government-led regulator.
The Zimbabwe Media Alliance said the Media Council, a statutory forum for dealing with complaints about media abuses, will perpetuate oppression of the media.
Zimbabwe Media Alliance members were invited to attend the Media Council launch but boycotted the proceedings. The Media Alliance includes organizations such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
The Media Council is mandated by the 2008 Global Political Agreement which underpins the Harare unity government, under the the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act or AIPPA, which media advocates say should be repealed outright.
In addition to representatives of publishing houses, members of the Media Council will be drawn from the Zimbabwe Media Commission and represent the three parties currently in government. Media advocacy organizations were invited to nominate representatives.
Zimbabwe Media Commission Chairman Godfrey Majonga told VOA that the council is a legal body which will review any media legislation or regulations. Majonga said it was regrettable that media advocates decided to boycott the council's launch.
Media Alliance Acting Coordinator Dzikamai Chigura says his group has maintained since the formation of the Zimbabwe Media Commission last year that any regulatory body for the media must operate independently of government.
Chigura told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that journalists should not require licenses to communicate information to citizens about elected officials and other figures who are supposed to be accountable for their decisions and actions.